I did not plan to write today, but there is a message I desperately need to hear. I’m writing for myself, but perhaps you need the same message. It is quite simple, but oh so difficult.
Just. Stay. Calm.
Easier said than done, right? I have often thought that this is the key to effective parenting. But I am still working on learning how to do it.
This is the message I heard from God’s Word this morning. This is the message my husband reminded me of in a note. This is the message I am struggling to hold onto as I walk through the day.
- Spilled milk, spilled juice, spilled paint, spilled soap? Just stay calm.
- Pain, fatigue, brain fog? Just stay calm.
- Complaints over chores, over school, over siblings? Just stay calm.
- Things to do, places to go, needs to meet? Just stay calm.
- Noisy children, noisy pets, noisy traffic, noisy mind? Just stay calm.
- Food to cook, dishes to clean, laundry to fold? Just stay calm.
- Stress, anxiety, overwhelm? Just stay calm.
- Blocked by the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s army chasing you? Just stay calm.
Yes, that is the advice Moses gave the Israelites as they were being pursued by all the chariots and officers from Egypt. If there was ever a reason to panic, that was it. You might expect Moses’ instructions to be either 1) Fight or 2) Run! But neither of those are what he said.
“But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today…The Lord Himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.‘”
Exodus 14:13-14 (NLT)
While I don’t have an army of chariots pursuing me, I am being pursued. Thoughts and emotions threaten to overtake me. I feel them right behind me. I have an enemy, and he wants to defeat me today.
Just stay calm. Don’t be afraid. Stand still. Watch God rescue.
But how is it possible to stay calm?
Please remember, I speak from the midst of my trench. I am learning right alongside you. But here are a few practical tips I want to remember today:
- Open your mouth cautiously. I don’t think this really needs an explanation. If you struggle like me, you understand.
- Stop frequently to sit down. Even for just a moment. My body needs to remind my heart to be calm.
- Grab a verse to repeat. Today, I have Moses’ words from Exodus 14 stuck on my fridge. Now, I just need to read them. Frequently.
- Look into my children’s eyes. Remind myself that they are people who I love. There’s just something about eye contact that helps us connect.
- Overlook some of my to-do list. It is time to consider my priorities and let the rest slide. It really will be ok.
- Turn up the music. Some moments today will require that I turn up the worship to remind my heart of the Truth I know.
- Turn down the music. This is the sort of day that, in other moments, we need the calming effect of some quiet, classical music.
- Just do the next thing. If I think too far ahead, I might panic. So I will constantly whisper the prayer: “Lord, what do I do next?” Then I’ll trust the quiet answer.
- Get outside. I tend to send my kids outside when they’re too energetic. But being outside helps me too when my thoughts are emotions are too energetic.
- Pray without ceasing. Pray, then pray some more. Just a running conversation with Jesus throughout the day. My feelings are my cue to get close to Jesus today. I will walk in dependence on Him. And I will pray with my children so they have an example of clinging to Jesus in the midst of the storm.
Those are my reminders on a day when I need to stay calm. I probably won’t do all ten. Just a few will be helpful in reminding myself of what I know I need to do: Just stay calm.
What will you do today to help yourself stay calm?